The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:3-14.

In this passage, Jesus warns against being misled, by false prophets or great calamities, into thinking that this is the end [Matt. 24:4-8; Mark 13:5-8; Luke 21:8-11].

We have Jesus’ prediction of persecution and promise of help [Matt. 24:9-14; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19].

Our Lord is sitting on the Mount of Olives and his disciples approach him. There were several events the disciples wanted to know about: (1) destruction of the temple, (2) Second Coming and (3) end of this age. The disciples probably thought all three would happen at one time.

“Take heed that no one deceives you” (v.4) — There were and continue to be many false signs or “precursor signs.” This statement was repeated often (cf. Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33).

Every generation of Christians has tried to force their contemporary history into biblical prophecy. To date they have all been wrong. Part of the problem is that believers are to live in a moment by moment expectation of the Second Coming yet the prophecies are all written for one end time generation of persecuted followers. Rejoice that you do not know!

“For many will come in My name” (v.5) — This referred to false messiahs (cf. Matt. 24:11, 23-24; Mark 13:6).

“I am the Christ” “Christ” is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew term messiah, which meant “an anointed one.” This shows that many messianic pretenders would come (cf. Matt. 24:11, 24; 1 John. 2:18).

“and will deceive many” — This shows the persuasive power of the false messiahs and the spiritual vacuum of fallen mankind (cf. Matt. 24:11,23-26). It also shows the naïveté of new believers and/or carnal Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1-3; Col. 2:16-23; Heb. 5:11-14).

“See that you are not troubled” (v.6) — This is present passive imperative with the negative particle, which usually means stop an act in process.

“for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” Wars (vv.6, 7), famines (v.7), earthquakes (v.7), and false messiahs v.5) are not signs of the end, but precursor signs of every age (cf. v.8). The presence of these kinds of events are not a sign of the end, but of a fallen world.

“Then” (v.9) — This term is used several times in Jesus’ end-time discussion (cf. Matt. 24:9,10,14,16,21,23,30,40; 25:1,7,31,34,37, 41,44,45). Question: 1. Is it simply a transition marker? 2. Does it designate a temporal sequence? 3. Does it designate a context sequence?

Mark 13:9 is much more specific at this point. “Councils and synagogues,” a phrase not found in Matt. 24:9, shows both governmental and religious persecution of Christians (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-16). “Beaten” or literally “skinned,” Jews whipped offenders thirty-nine times — thirteen times on the front and twenty-six times on the back (cf. Deut. 25:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:24).

“you will be hated by all nations” Jesus prepared His disciples for the world’s hatred (cf. Matt. 10:22; 21:35-36; 23:37; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17; John 15:18,19; 1 John 3:13). The level of opposition to the gospel is surprising (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). The implication of this phrase is that Christianity has spread into all the world (cf. Matt. 24:14) which means Jesus is referring to a future time.

“for My name’s sake” — Not for their own wickedness or civil crimes will believers be persecuted, but because they are Christians (cf. Matt. 5:10-16; Mark13:9; 1 Pet. 4:12-16).

“then many will be offended” (v.10) — Under persecution and spiritual delusion many followers of Jesus will “fall away” (lit. “be caused to stumble,” cf. Matt. 11:6). These are the ones spoken of in the parable of the soils in Matt. 13:21 (cf. Mark 4:17; 8:13). They are the ones who “do not abide” in John 15:6. They are the ones who leave the fellowship in 1 John 2:18-19. They are the ones described in Hebrews and 2 Pet. 2:20-22.

Verses 10-11 — Denotes organized opposition (cf. Mark 13:12). Families will be split over Christ (cf. Matt. 10:35-37). Those who should have been changed by the gospel act like the unsaved (cf. Titus 3:2-3).

“Many false prophets” (v.11) — This is a scary thought. These people are wolves in sheep’s clothing (cf. Matt. 7:15-23). Believers must have a grasp of the gospel and a godly lifestyle to protect themselves from these pretenders (cf. 2 Peter 2; 1 John. 2:18-19; Revelation 13).

Persecution will reveal the true spiritual nature of the pretenders (v.12; see Matt. 13:20-22) or the weak (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10).

“But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (v.13) – Salvation is for those who endure to the end (Rev. 2:2, 11, 12, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). Endurance is an evidence of a life changing encounter with Jesus. It does not imply sinlessness, but it does contrast the actions of vv.10-12!

“this gospel of the kingdom” (v.14) — This was mentioned earlier in Matt. 4:23; 9:35. It is synonymous with “the gospel.” It referred to the content of Jesus’ preaching.

“will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations” — This is the goal of Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8! It marks a major shift away from the “Israel only” policy. This is one of the things that must occur before the Second Coming.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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